1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ayuntamiento

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AYUNTAMIENTO, the Spanish name for the district over which a town council has administrative authority; it is used also for a town council, and for the town-hall. The word is derived from the Latin adjungere, and originally meant “meeting.” In some parts of Spain and in Spanish America the town council was called the cabildo or chapter, from the Latin capitulum. The ayuntamiento consisted of the official members, and of regidores or regulators, who were chosen in varying proportions from the “hidalgos” or nobles (hijos de algo, sons of somebody) and the “pecheros,” or commoners, who paid the pecho, or personal tax; pecho (Lat. pectus) is in Spanish the breast, and then by extension the person. The regidores of the ayuntamientos, or lay cabildos, were checked by the royal judge or corregidor, who was in fact the permanent chairman or president. The distinction between hidalgo and pechero has been abolished in modern Spain, but the powers and the constitution of ayuntamientos have been subject to many modifications.